Give-away 'knock-off' merchandise based on popular Love Island TV show leads expert to raise questions of infringement and passing off.
A campaign by UK’s Conservative Party offering free ‘Love Island water bottles,’ to coincide with final episode of popular Love Island TV show, may have trademark infringement or passing off issues, according to an IP expert.
I’ve got text!
The Conservative Party launched an ‘I’ve got a text!’ campaign to capitalise on show’s popularity on a ‘conservatives.com/loveisland’ website, and offers Love Island water bottles with ‘a political twist.’ Many bottles have a political message, including a bottle with the message ‘don’t let Corbyn mug you off.’ Love Island is one of the most popular digital TV shows in the UK, especially among a younger audience. ITV Studios sells its own official Love Island water bottle which can be customised and has many registered trademarks related to the show and a ‘love island’ mark in the UK in various classes, including class 21 for ‘water bottles.’ The ITV Studios’ trademark team has also filed a number of trademark applications in the UK for phrases used on the current series.
Mark or passing off?
According to Mark Hiddleston, director and trademark attorney at Hiddleston law firm, talking to World Trademark Review, there could be two issues with the campaign. ‘In principle, [there] could be trademark infringement issues depending upon what ITV has registered and for what goods. One potential glitch is that, to infringe, you have to use in the course of trade and it may an open question as to whether that applies here. However, if the Conservatives are opening any form of revenue from donations they could be, and ‘secondly, there could be passing off since the public may believe that the ITV is endorsing or licensing the use.’ Though earlier promotion referenced the show, the campaign website was subsequently updated to remove references to Love Island, and photos reflect design differences, which some on social media suggest is a ‘knock-off’ of the Love Island water bottles.